- Church Puts Legal Pressure on Abuse Victims’ Group
- Cardinal Dolan – “Stop the legal bullying!” – SNAP Petition
- Bradley Manning’s treatment was cruel and inhuman, UN torture chief rules
Church Puts Legal Pressure on Abuse Victims’ Group
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
March 12, 2012
Turning the tables on an advocacy group that has long supported victims of pedophile priests, lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church and priests accused of sexual abuse in two Missouri cases have gone to court to compel the group to disclose more than two decades of e-mails that could include correspondence with victims, lawyers, whistle-blowers, witnesses, the police, prosecutors and journalists.
The group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, is neither a plaintiff nor a defendant in the litigation. But the group has been subpoenaed five times in recent months in Kansas City and St. Louis, and its national director, David Clohessy, was questioned by a battery of lawyers for more than six hours this year. A judge in Kansas City ruled that the network must comply because it “almost certainly” had information relevant to the case.
The network and its allies say the legal action is part of a campaign by the church to cripple an organization that has been the most visible defender of victims, and a relentless adversary, for more than two decades. “If there is one group that the higher-ups, the bishops, would like to see silenced,” said Marci A. Hamilton, a law professor at Yeshiva University and an advocate for victims of clergy sex crimes, “it definitely would be SNAP. And that’s what they’re going after. They’re trying to find a way to silence SNAP.”
Lawyers for the church and priests say they cannot comment because of a judge’s order. But William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a church advocacy group in New York, said targeting the network was justified because “SNAP is a menace to the Catholic Church.”
Mr. Donohue said leading bishops he knew had resolved to fight back more aggressively against the group: “The bishops have come together collectively. I can’t give you the names, but there’s a growing consensus on the part of the bishops that they had better toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough. We don’t need altar boys.”
He said bishops were also rethinking their approach of paying large settlements to groups of victims. “The church has been too quick to write a check, and I think they’ve realized it would be a lot less expensive in the long run if we fought them one by one,” Mr. Donohue said.
However, a spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, said Mr. Donohue was incorrect.
“There is no national strategy,” she said, and there was no meeting where legal counsel for the bishops decided to get more aggressive….
Mr. Clohessy was deposed in January by lawyers for five accused priests and the diocese. In the 215-page transcript, made public on March 2, most of the questions were not about the case but about the network — its budget, board of directors, staff members, donors and operating procedures.
Mr. Clohessy testified that he had never had contact with John Doe.
“It was not a fishing expedition,” Mr. Clohessy said. “It was a fishing, crabbing, shrimping, trash-collecting, draining the pond expedition. The real motive is to harass and discredit and bankrupt SNAP, while discouraging victims, witnesses, whistle-blowers, police, prosecutors and journalists from seeking our help.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/us/catholic-church-pressures-victims-network-with-subpoenas.html
Cardinal Dolan – “Stop the legal bullying!”
As the head of America’ bishops, we urge you to publicly denounce, and stop, the bullying tactics used by bishops and church defense lawyers against those seeking help from the support group SNAP, including victims of abuse by clerics, witnesses, whistleblowers, police, prosecutors and journalists. http://www.snapnetwork.org/snap_petition
Bradley Manning’s treatment was cruel and inhuman, UN torture chief rules
UN special rapporteur on torture’s findings likely to reignite criticism of US government’s treatment of WikiLeaks suspect
Ed Pilkington in New York
guardian.co.uk, Monday 12 March 2012 09.41 EDT
The UN special rapporteur on torture has formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning, the US soldier who was held in solitary confinement for almost a year on suspicion of being the WikiLeaks source.
Juan Mendez has completed a 14-month investigation into the treatment of Manning since the soldier’s arrest at a US military base in May 2010. He concludes that the US military was at least culpable of cruel and inhumane treatment in keeping Manning locked up alone for 23 hours a day over an 11-month period in conditions that he also found might have constituted torture.
“The special rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence,” Mendez writes.
The findings of cruel and inhuman treatment are published as an addendum to the special rapporteur’s report to the UN general assembly on the promotion and protection of human rights. They are likely to reignite criticism of the US government’s harsh treatment of Manning ahead of his court martial later this year…..
The Pentagon has refused to allow Mendez to see Manning in private, insisting that all conversations must be monitored. “You should have no expectation of privacy in your communications with Private Manning,” the Pentagon wrote.
The lack of privacy is a violation of human rights procedures, the UN says, and considered unacceptable by the UN special rapporteur. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/12/bradley-manning-cruel-inhuman-treatment-un